India and Myanmar (formerly Burma) held a virtual meeting due to COVID-19 that was headed by the secretaries of the respective govts. The 19th round of Foreign Office Consultations between India and Myanmar was held on 1 October 2020. Foreign Secretary and Indian diplomat Harsh Vardhan Shringla led the Indian delegation while the Myanmar delegation was led by Permanent Secretary, U Soe Han.
Points to Note
- During the meeting, both countries reviewed the entire gamut of relations.
- They reviewed their border cooperation and the restoration work on earthquake damaged pagodas in Myanmar’s Bagan.
- Both countries discussed cooperation in regional and multilateral forums.
- They expressed satisfaction that despite the COVID-19, meetings in areas including power, energy have been held virtually. This reflects the depth of the bilateral engagement, they said.
- Both countries also discussed to operationalize the Myanmar’s Sittwe port by 2021.
- The next Joint Trade Committee Ministerial Meeting will be held on 20 October which would further strengthen the bilateral trade and investment relations.
Importance of Myanmar to India
Myanmar geographically stands at the crossroads of India-Southeast relations. So, Myanmar is geographically important to India. Myanmar is the only Southeast Asian nation that shares a land border with north-eastern India having a border of 1,624 KM. It also share a 725 km maritime boundary in the Bay of Bengal. Myanmar is the only nation that fits at the intersection of India’s “Neighborhood First” policy and its “Look East” policy. Buddhism, Business, Bollywood, Bharatnatyam, and Burma teak are the 5 Bs that frame India-Myanmar relations.
Indian Projects In Myanmar
The GoI is highly involved in several projects in Myanmar. These includes:
- Upgradation of the 160 kilometer long Tamu-Kalewa-Kalemyo road.
- Construction and up-gradation of the Rhi-Tiddim Road.
- Kaladan Multimodal Transport Project and Sitwe port.
- Asymmetric digital subscriber line (ADSL) project for high-speed data links in 32 Myanmar cities. It has been completed by TCIL (Telecommunications Consultants India).
- ONGC Videsh Ltd. (OVL), GAIL, and ESSAR are participants of energy sector in Myanmar.
- M/s RITES is developing the rail transportation system and supplying the railway coaches and locos.
Myanmar is an essential element of India’s regional diplomacy in the Indo-Pacific region. Myanmar also serves as a bridge to connect South Asia and Southeast Asia. Following this, it was given the observer status in SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) in August 2008. Thus, it is in India’s interest to see Myanmar as a stable and autonomous country. They should make greater bilateral engagement to strengthen the relations.
India-Myanmar reviewed Bilateral Relations India-Myanmar reviewed Bilateral Relations